LETTER TO HIS DAUGHTER, HANNAH (2OF 2)
(Part of the Collection, Kersey's Essays)
Taken From A Narrative of the Early Life, Travels, and Gospel Labors of Jessey Kersey, Late of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Chapman, 1851, pages 284-288.
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Thy letter of the 7th instant has come to hand, and were it not that I am desirous of satisfying an inquiring mind on a doctrinal subject I believe that I should not have attempted to write in return so soon. The fact is, that it is more of a task to me to write now than formerly. But reflecting upon the subject offered to my consideration by thy young friend, it has occurred to me that the best expounder of the doctrines of Christ is the light Of his own blessed Spirit in every mind. But there may be instances of individual cases where instrumental helps are right and proper. In all such I doubt not but the instrument will be called to the case when the right time shall come. Upon the doctrine itself I am free to say that the word atonement does not very happily apply to the subject, because the word reconciliation is more in accordance with the condition called for, and which is the great end of the gift of divine Providence to man. Now it is our sins that separate us from the one true and living God, and we never can be united to him until we are separated from transgression. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are reconciled unto him and are his sons. But those who have taken up the doctrine that the sins of mankind are atoned for by one great offering appear to me to have adopted a mass of absurd opinions, and attributed to the great Parent of mankind dispositions, and even a character that never did belong to him. They charge the whole human family with having committed crimes against the great attribute of justice which can never be forgiven until there is a satisfactory atonement made for all those offences. Thus they [P. 285] assume a character to the divine Being which never belonged to him. They have even held up the idea that he is absolutely inexorable, and: stands off from us in a state of high displeasure. But his Son, compassionating our case comes forward and offers to take charge of our case. He therefore to satisfy the inexorable Father comes to our world, and so plans the whole concern that some of those very creatures, who were the objects of his concern put him to the ignominious death of the cross, and by this act we are put into the capacity to have our sins atoned for, and ,are put into a capacity to be saved. In order to be a firm believer in the doctrine of the atonement, upon orthodox principles, we must admit the existence of a plurality in the divinity. We must have the being making the atonement, and also the being to whom it is made. Christianity never held up this kind of belief to the world. The Evangelist John is perfectly clear on the subject, and plainly proves that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Now the apostle Paul has dearly shown that the Word spoken of by the Evangelist John is the wisdom and power of God, the same by which the world was made, and confirms the whole doctrine of Christianity to center the believer in the belief that though in the world there are lords many and gods many, to the Christian there is but one God. The whole, therefore, of the doctrine of Father and Son ,is clearly shown to consist of cause and effect. Viewing the subject in this light, it must forever put an end to the dark doctrine of the atonement as believed in or professed by the orthodox believer. For many years I have not been able to believe in the doctrine of a [P. 286] plurality in the divine character, and hence I have seen that as Paul expresses himself upon the subject that to us there is but one God. Now in regard to Jesus of Nazareth, born of the virgin Mary, there has been no difficulty to my mind in believing that if it consisted with the wisdom of. God to cause a virgin to conceive and bring forth a son, his power was sufficient to accomplish the design, and Jesus being so brought forth might very properly be called, as he really was, the Son of God. But though he may be thus spoken of and understood, I have to believe that when at any time: he performed a marvelous act, such as opening the eyes of the blind, causing the lame to walk, or the dead to be raised, this was done by the power of God and not by Jesus as a man. Now it is from this understanding in regard to Jesus of Nazareth, born as aforesaid, that my mind is relieved from all those dark and absurd opinions that embrace Jesus as a second person in the Trinitarian system. I know and I can know but one God, and because the light which shines in me and in all men is an effect of God, it is therefore called the Son of God Christ within the hope of glory. Nor is there any other means or medium by which we can be led to the knowledge of God but by this same Christ, within whom is the true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world. We know in the outward, that it is, by the rays of light that proceed from the sun that we are led up to a knowledge of the sun. In like manner is the mind by the Spirit led up to the knowledge of God.
Having had my understanding thus opened and informed upon those important points I have entered seriously into the consideration of the mediation offered by [P. 287] this heavenly light in us and I have seen that all those who in obedience to his invitation come unto him and take his yoke upon them do enter into his gentle and lamb-like nature. Thus they cease to do evil and learn to do well and hence it is that there is nothing in them that would hurt or destroy and therefore they are one with the Eternal united in him. But let us look a little further into the doctrine that supposes Christ died as an atonement for the sins of mankind, and see what is said that may fairly apply to the subject. We find the first Christian martyr Stephen speaks to the Jews of that time and it is probable there were some of the persons who heard this servant of God had been parties in the murderous act which he charged on them when he had so clearly set before them the goodness of God to them and their forefathers. And in return how had they and their forefathers acted. O ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and in ears. Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have they not slain? and lastly ye have with wicked hands murdered the just one, I ask with what propriety could Stephen have considered this act of the crucifixion of the Son of God as being done in violent opposition to the requirings of the Divine Spirit, if it be true that it was necessary to be done for the redemption of the world. No, the fact is, if the attributes of the Divine Being ever recognized measures of a cruel nature for the redemption of a fallen world then I have through life been kept from understanding the subject rightly and must have been deceived. But it may be further remarked that Jesus himself said at a certain time And now O, Father I have glorified thee on earth, and I have finished [P. 288] the work which thou gavest me to do. As this testimony concerning himself was before his crucifixion, it is evident that what followed his testimony was the work of men and therefore not necessary to be done. It may be proper to add that those who think that the outward death and sufferings of Christ were necessary to satisfy the great attribute of justice certainly in looking for this suffering as a remedy for the sins of the world require in concurrence with their belief that one of the greatest acts of injustice that can be conceived to do away the effect of injustice. The truth of the matter is that in relying upon the outward crucifixion for salvation they appear to go from all that is just or reasonable and to require us to believe a doctrine which goes farther to tolerate rapine, cruelty and death than any other we have ever seen or heard of. No marvel that it was entirely exploded by our early Friends.
I now forward this letter which has been some time in my desk and not taken notice of. Perhaps it may serve to show thee that thou hast more place in the thoughts of thy Father than thou wast aware of.
12th mo. 26th, 1840.